Two weeks before a wedding, the final touches are being put in place. By this time, all of the crucial elements have been planned and taken care of.
It’s time for the bride-to-be to celebrate, relax as much as possible, and make sure her outfit is all put together and ready to go.
It’s not time for the bride to find out she might have cancer. But that became Carrie Doles’ story.
Two weeks before her big day in 2010, she got a spot on the side of her head checked out. For months a small scab would form, fall off, and then form again.
She didn’t want the procedure to mar her big day or the photos, so she scheduled the biopsy for after her wedding. At just 26, she found out that she had skin cancer.
“Then after my wedding I went back in to biopsy it,” Doles said, according to Media Drum World. “They took a sample of it out, left me with two stitches and then called me within the next week to say it was confirmed, basal cell skin cancer.”
“It scared me to have been diagnosed with a skin cancer at such a young age but I was always under the assumption that basal cell was the ‘good kind of cancer’ and it would be no big deal. But not so much.”
The Chicago, Illinois, mom has a pretty good idea why she got it, too.
“Laying out in the sun, not wearing sunscreen and tanning beds were definitely a contributing factor to my skin cancer,” Doles said.
“In college I would go tanning every day,” she admitted. “I didn’t know what skin care was then, I was young and felt I didn’t need to take care of my skin at such a young age. My skin was lucky if I put SPF 15 on it or any type of moisturizer.”
“I started using tanning beds at the age of eighteen and continued until my facial cancer diagnosis in 2010.”
But it was time to pay the piper — and pay, she did. Though she couldn’t feel the cutting taking place, she knew what was going on and could hear it. They kept checking samples to make sure they’d gotten all of the cancer, but it took them multiple tries to clear it.
“They did this procedure a total of six times,” Doles said. “Until finally no more cancer cells were found but now I was left with a huge hole in my face that was not going to be able to stitch up so easily.”
Editor’s Note: If you want to see the original photo of her face after the surgery to remove her cancer, it can be found through this link to Facebook.
And that wasn’t the end of her troubles, either. “The plastic surgeon was in surgery all day, so I had to wait to meet with him when he was all done. This was finally at 7 p.m. in the evening. So, the whole afternoon I had to walk around with my face all gauzed up with a huge hole in my head, and the numbness was eventually wearing off.”
“We finally met with the surgeon and he explained to me that we had to test my nerve reaction and then schedule a surgery first thing in the morning. He hooked me up to a nerve stimulator and sent electrical pulses through my face to see if they had cut any nerves. No function.”
“So, I had to go home that night, clean and care for my open wound on my own,” she said. “I couldn’t eat anything because of surgery in the morning and I couldn’t take any pain pills.”
The next day the surgery was finally completed, but the surgeon had to do mini face and brow lifts to get the skin to smooth out evenly.
“Every now and then I get bad headaches. It feels like I am being struck by lightning in that area. I still cannot raise my left eyebrow,” she said.
In 2014, the cancer returned, but was again removed. Doles has now made it a goal of hers to warn people of the dangers of tanning — which many of us know in theory, but there’s nothing like seeing photographic evidence and hearing someone’s story to really drive the point home.
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